Crossover & Midsize

The Kia Telluride May Soon Get an Off-Road Version

Kia has been making some waves in the auto world recently by designing luxury SUVs and keeping them affordable. Since luxury and affordable don’t exactly go hand in hand, it really took the world by surprise when the Korean automaker announced it would be releasing an off-road version of the Telluride.

This could be a game-changer for Kia if the off-road Telluride lives up to expectations, but will it fall flat? Auto Spies has some of the details.

How does the Kia Telluride handle the great outdoors?

The Kia Telluride at the annual 2019 NBA Awards
The Kia Telluride | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Turner Sports

According to Cars.com, it depends on the trail. Kia’s director of corporate communications James Bell allowed representatives from Cars.com to take the Kia Telluride out of the playpen to test its paces. They were able to drive it on some of the more sweat-worthy portions of Road America in Wisconsin. The results weren’t terrible.

Most of the problem lies with the ground clearance, which is only 8 inches. That’s not bad, but combine that with an approach angle of 17 degrees and a departure angle of 20.9, and you’re not going to hit some of the tougher trails the Jeep Wrangler and the Toyota 4Runner can handle with ease. Not unless you don’t mind the bottom of your SUV scraping the ground and pieces being left behind, anyway. That was one of the problems Cars.com had with the off-road Telluride. There was more than one steep hill that had the Telluride scraping the bottom. 

In the Telluride’s defense, there were several SUVs that attempted the run that overheated, wrecked, and got stuck, so there’s hope yet for Kia’s new luxury off-roader.

Popular Mechanics driver and blogger Ezra Deyer took the Kia Telluride on the Daniel Trail in NC, and he had more success. The Telluride was able to make it all the way to the top of the Daniel Trail, which is incredibly impressive. As you drive up the trail, you can see pieces of other vehicles that got scraped off by the sharp rocks and steep inclines.

The Telluride managed it, but not without cost. One of the tires went flat, and Deyer had to change it after cresting the summit. Still, he made it out on a doughnut. How many SUVs can do that?

Accessories for the Kia Telluride

While the Jeep Wrangler probably holds the record for the most off-road accessories, the Kia Telluride will have some. According to Kia, you can purchase items like rear bumper protection, bike attachments, side steps, splash guards, and a tow hitch. Cars.com believes that as Kia perfects the off-road aspect of the Telluride, more accessories will become available to drivers. 

Why you might want one

Well, for starters, you can’t beat the price of a Kia. U.S. News reports that the new base LX trim of the 2020 Kia Telluride can be purchased for $31,690. The most expensive trim level, the SX, starts at $43,490. That may seem expensive, but many of the Telluride’s rivals cost a lot more.

If you love to go off-roading with your family and friends, you can pack more people than ever inside. Most off-road SUVs are five-passenger vehicles, and that’s only if you squeeze everyone in. The Telluride can sit 7-8 passengers. Even better, the cabin is very comfortable. Rather than that itchy cheap upholstery that you can’t wait to slap seat covers on, you get synthetic leather. If you have little ones, you can rest easy. There are two complete LATCH systems in the second row, one in the third row, and the middle seats both have a top tether anchor.

The gas mileage is more than decent at 19-20 MPG city and 24-26 MPG highway. You probably won’t be worried about that if you’re hitting the back trails, but it’s nice to have a large vehicle that doesn’t guzzle gas.

U.S. News was so impressed with the 2020 Kia Telluride that it was rated No. 1 in three categories: Midsize SUVs, Crossover SUVs, and SUVs with 3 rows. If you’re looking for a vehicle that feels just as comfortable in the woods as it does on the city streets, then the Kia Telluride is for you.